Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan (1962)

What is a writer without readers? What is a blogger without people who stop by to read, comment, suggest, recommend, and encourage?
So, in gratitude to everybody who’s been visiting this blog over the months: this month on Dusted Off is dedicated to you. All through September 2010, the posts here will be connected in some way or the other to the readers of Dusted Off. The film reviews will be of films that have been recommended, given, or otherwise suggested by readers; and the lists—those ‘top tens’ I’m so fond of—will be of requests made by readers.

To begin with, this film. When I posted a review of Bhai Bahen a while back, it sparked off a discussion on N Dutta’s music—and reader Ash mentioned Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan, for which too the score had been composed by Dutta. After we’d indulged in much speculation about the film’s plot (what an intriguing title, right?!), another reader, Shalini, was kind enough to say that she had a copy, and was even more kind enough to share it. Therefore…

The credits roll to the first song of the film. The lyrics tell about, and the screen shows, nurses caring for patients, secretaries typing, telephone operators working at exchanges, and girls working in offices, schools and factories. The 11,000 girls of the title are the 11,000 working girls of Bombay, we are told: hard-working, conscientious girls who take upon themselves the task of providing for their families.
One of these has just landed herself in a great deal of trouble. Asha Premchand (Mala Sinha) is being tried in court for the murder of the manager of the Shangri La Club.

Asha pleads guilty, but has just admitted that she has no lawyer to argue her case, when Puran Chand (Bharat Bhushan), lawyer and journalist, arrives and introduces himself as Asha’s counsel. The prosecutor seems scornful of a colleague so gullible that he’ll plead a case for someone who’s obviously guilty. The judge is sceptical too. “Do you have any witnesses to prove that Asha Devi’s innocence?” he asks, and Puran Chand’s answer is dramatic: “Yes. I have 11,000 witnesses.” Not wholly accurate, but certainly dramatic.

We now go into swift and sudden flashback, to the good old days when Asha herself was one of those 11,000 working girls. We see Asha sitting at her desk at the Rationing Office, chatting with her friends (Achla Sachdev is one of them) and reading a newspaper article in the Naya Sansar (‘New World’) newspaper. The article is by the Naya Sansar’s correspondent, Puran Chand, who’s spent the last few months touring everywhere from Cambodia to Canada to Cairo, and has only recently returned. His piece in the Naya Sansar is about the working girls of Bombay.

It’s a sympathetic article, and the girls at the Rationing Office warm to the writer. So much so that Asha decides she’d like to meet the man. Fortunately, there’s a valid excuse—Puran Chand has been abroad, but in the interim his servant (never named, but would probably be Ramu Kaku; the actor’s Nazir Kashmiri) has been drawing rations. Asha sends a letter summoning Puran Chand to the office.
Puran Chand turns up at the office, meets Asha, has a minor altercation with her, and finally agrees to write a letter for the office, explaining matters and promising future toeing of the line.

In the process—what with the mess on Asha’s desk, and the papers that spill out of Puran Chand’s briefcase when he writes the letter—there’s an inadvertent mix-up. Asha’s pay envelope ends up in Puran Chand’s briefcase and one of his envelopes ends up in her bag.
Office over, Asha goes back home. This is where we meet the rest of her clan—six younger sisters, of whom the eldest, Uma (Madhavi, in her debut) is still at school, though she’s perennially donning Asha’s saris, using her lipstick and powder, and pretending to be all grown up.

The girls’ mother died years ago, and since their father passed on two years back, Asha has been the breadwinner. It’s hard going (even with giving tuitions and working at the Rationing Office, Asha only manages to scrape together Rs 200 a month). And now Asha discovers that she’s lost the month’s pay. Disaster!
—But no. Of course she guesses where it must be, and she manages to track Puran Chand to the Shangri La Club, where he’s gone for a meal. Asha meets Puran Chand and having explained things, exchanges envelopes with him.

While they’re getting to know each other better (and, over a few more meetings, inevitably falling in love), we get to know Puran Chand a bit better too.
Puran Chand (though for no reason that is divulged) is estranged from his millionaire father, Mool Chand (Murad) because (and I have another reader, pacifist, to thank for this clarification) Puran, as a journalist, goes about exposing the misdeeds of greedy businessmen, one of whom is Mool Chand, greedy and crooked as they come. Mool Chand spends all his time trying to somehow bully, coax, or trick Puran into returning to Mool Chand Mahal, to stay with dad. He even purchases the building in which Puran rents a flat, and evicts Puran. Puran refuses to buckle under, and his father, after some cajoling, finally manages to get Puran to agree to have lunch with him—at a club.

At the club, Mool Chand’s devious ways are further revealed: he’s also invited an old and equally wealthy pal, Lakshmi Das along with his daughter Mohana (Nadira). The two old fogies soon make themselves scarce and Mohana, who’s a chatterbox and seems a bit of an airhead, latches on to Puran.

So we have Puran in love with Asha, Asha in love with Puran, and Mohana attracted to Puran and his wealth, with Mool Chand trying to work things so he can get his son back, preferably with Mohana as bahu.
But Puran has no intentions of either returning to Mool Chand Mahal or of marrying Mohana. He doesn’t even cow down when Mool Chand purchases the Naya Sansar and tries to make Puran the editor. Instead, Puran resigns, and sets up his own small newspaper, Aazaad, which he brings out with the help of Asha and an ex-colleague from Naya Sansar.

Meanwhile, remember Asha’s precocious sister, Uma? Uma is as fond of partying as anybody else, and one day, she sneaks off to a friend’s party at the Shangri La Club. There, the manager of the club notices Uma dancing, and approaches her with an offer: he’ll give her a job as a dancer at the Shangri La, and she’ll be able to make pots of money and go places.
When Uma tells Asha, Asha flies into a rage. Good girls do not dance in clubs. How could Uma! Asha takes the Rs 100 Uma has been given as an advance, and goes and flings it back at the manager, who, undeterred, makes a pass at Asha.

But times have turned seemingly irrevocably harrowing for the Premchand girls. Shortly after, one evening when Asha is all by herself at the Aazaad office, Mool Chand arrives, and without much preamble, offers her money to let go of Puran. (Which, of course, Asha politely refuses to do, causing him to leave in a huff).

Then, one day, rationing is abolished. In one fell swoop, hundreds of women who work in rationing offices—Asha among them—lose their jobs. Now what?
And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Asha’s littlest sister Baby is kidnapped one day on her way back from school. Asha receives a ransom note, asking for Rs 5,000 to be brought to the Bassein Fort. Asha rushes off to Puran’s house to ask him for help, but he isn’t home, and in any case, the kidnapper follows her there and sends in a note telling her to keep her mouth shut or Baby will be killed.

Asha’s by now in a panic, and goes to Mool Chand to ask for a loan of Rs 5,000. This strikes me as silly; after all, if that note has put her off going to Puran, then shouldn’t she not go to Puran’s father, too? But she does go to him, and he does agree to let her have the 5K—provided she signs a note to the effect that she’s taking this money in return for breaking off all relations with Puran.
Just as Asha’s leaving with the money, Puran comes to meet his dad, who shows him the note. And Asha, clutching all that money, remains silent, leaving Puran to think her faithless.

Asha hands over the money to Baby’s kidnapper, and Baby is returned safe and sound. We also discover (as I’d suspected all along; this Mool Chand is a bad egg) that Mool Chand is the one who’d engineered Baby’s kidnapping, just to break up Asha and Puran. The henchman comes to return the Rs 5,000 to Mool Chand, who’s very pleased with himself.

And very soon, poor Asha, now desperate for a job, is reduced to taking up a position as the personal secretary of a very wealthy woman, who happens to be Lakshmi Das’s daughter, Mohana. One day Asha accompanies Mohana on a shopping spree, and Mohana drags her off to a club, where Mohana is supposed to meet her fiancé.
… who turns out to be Puran.

Poor Asha. Life is not kind to a working girl.

But how did Asha get to be in the dock? How did she—if she’s telling the truth—get to murder the manager of Shangri La? Where do those 11,000 girls fit in?

Watch. This isn’t one of those all-time greats that mustn’t be missed, but it’s a pleasant and entertaining little film, and good timepass, as they say.

By the way: if you like Mukri, he has a briefish role too, as the Premchand girls’ comic and thoroughly henpecked neighbour.

What I liked about this film:

The music! Oh, the music. N Dutta—considered the man who brought the sound of rock and roll to Bollywood—scored the music for Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan. My absolute favourite is Dil ki tamanna thhi masti mein, which has two versions, one a duet and the other a male solo in Rafi’s voice, both equally memorable tunes. Also especially lovely are Gham gaya toh gham na kar and Sab log jidhar woh hain idhar. The latter included a discovery: part of the music in the verses is pretty obviously from the famous Never on a Sunday.

Ted Lyons! I’d never have known there’d been a Ted Lyons sighting in this film, if the man himself hadn’t told me. In the flamenco (or whatever it is) that Madhavi performs at the Shangri La, the tall young man playing the guitar is Terence ‘Ted’ Lyons. Minus the Cubs, but it’s good to see him, looking so dashing, and in a closeup too.

What I didn’t like:

The scripting could’ve been much better. The story’s engaging enough, and the main theme—of the working girls of Bombay—is sufficiently unusual to make this a somewhat offbeat film. (That theme does remain somewhat superficial, but never mind). What does irk me is the negligence with which parts of the script are treated. At the end of the film, though the main problem is resolved, other subsidiary issues are left hanging in the air. Yes, I don’t expect each end to be neatly tied up, but here I get the distinct impression that someone forgot that there were X, Y and Z problems too…

Still, enjoyable enough. And the music is worth it.


37 thoughts on “Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan (1962)

  1. Sounds like a delightful film, though I’m not a big Mala Sinha or Bharat Bhushan fan.

    What a nice title! The working girls of Mumbai deserve a film, or even a mention in a film. Just because Mumbai is so, so difficult to work in.


  2. Sounds like an interesting film. I quite like Mala Sinha and I don’t know why but I’m liking the look of Bharat Bhushan here! I will definitely watch this one. Now an entrant into my ever piling up list :)


  3. Lovely write up DO, and so nice we cud get this musical courtsey Shalini, thx to you both.

    Without doubt very under rated N. Dutta Bhau belted fantastic numbers, I never miss out any of his phillums. His compositions have that jolly good feeling and btw am glad we have a little street named after him in Four Bunglows, Versova, Mumbai, N Datta Marg… kudos to people who remembered him.

    Immediate film which comes to my mind as I saw it sometime back is-
    Sadhna (1958) –

    “Kahoji Tum Kya Kya Kharidoge”,
    “Aise Vaise Thikano Pe Jana Bura Hai”,
    “Aaj Kyon Humse Parda Hai”, – superb qawaali
    “Tora Manwa Kyon Ghabraye Re (female),
    “Sambhal Ae Dil”,
    “Aurat Ne Janam Diya Mardon Ko”,
    “Tora Manwa Kyon Ghabraye Re (male)

    Worth checking is another heart warming comedy-
    Jaal Saz (1969) with who else but Kishoreda, and Mala Sinha, Helen,Nana Palisikar, Achla Sachdev, Pran, Nazir Hussein

    Being a movie buff esp of Oldie Goldies I have no hesitation in saying any Bharat Bhushan movie is always seen by me, bound to have evergreen numbers, and you wanna watch him in a role as a bandido, (double role in fact,) then pls see it if u get a chance-

    SAWAN 1959

    U will not believe it is the same BB.



  4. Thanks for dedicating this month to us visitors, dustedoff. Very thoughtful :-)
    And thank you for reviewing this film as I’ve been waiting patiently for it.
    How did you make the colour so clearly black and white (with shades in between)? Though I didn’t mind that brownish tinge of the print.

    Don’t both Mala Sinha and Bharat Bhushan look nicer here? Especially Mala Sinha. Her acting was very controlled. I found the film quite different overall especially in the handling of it.

    >Puran Chand (though for no reason that is divulged) is estranged from his millionaire father, Mool Chand

    Actually it does say that because Puran Chand was a journalist, exposing the black deeds of the businessmen in the city, he moves away from his father as he was also involved in (along with Nadira’s father) such deeds.


  5. Its been long since i have had some Mala and this sounds very interesting, in fact Mala amidst all those melodramatic accusations, is a rightful legend, she sure did a lot of interesting/offbeat roles for her time. I hope this gets a proper dvd release with subs sometime


  6. Sounds great!
    jut imagine! At that time only 11,000 girls were working in Bombay, but they surely didn’t consider the ayahs, kaamwali bai and daily wage workers as working girls!

    BTw Which madhavi do you mean? Not the one from the south who starred in Ek Duuje ke Liye?

    “women who work in rationing offices—Asha among them—lose their jobs.”

    Surely they have a trade union. People with government jobs always had their own trade unions. Rationing abolished in the 60s! Unimaginable!

    How was Bharat Bhushan in coat and tie? I can only picturise him in sherwani or dhoti singing plaintive songs.


  7. Banno: I’m not much of a Bharat Bhushan fan either, though I don’t mind Mala Sinha, usually. But both of them were pleasant in this – much more enjoyable than in their other film I’ve seen, Jahanara.

    Sharmi: Bingo! Yes, I too liked Bharat Bhushan’s look here. Worth seeing at least once – this film, I mean. ;-)

    ash: It pleased me to know they named a street after N Datta! He deserves at least that. Saawan sounds like something I’d like to watch. Bharat Bhushan as a daaku? Waah! By the way, I like Sadhana too, especially for that fabulous song, Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko. One of Sahir’s hardest-hitting songs, and the music is so uncluttered that it lets the lyrics take centrestage. Haunting.

    harvey: Yes, it’s quite a lot of fun. Some holes in the plot, but generally much more coherent and entertaining than even a lot of better-known films of that period. Bharat Bhushan, I thought, looked far better in a suit than in period costume! The only other films in which I remember him wearing modern clothes were Mud-Mud Ke Na Dekh (Prem Chopra’s first film – he looked really skinny yet villainous) and Ghunghat, in which Bharat Bhushan actually made a fairly good jodi with Bina Rai.
    The Madhavi here worked in quite a few films from down South. In old Hindi films, you can also see her in Neela Akash and Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi. Remember the Johnny Walker song Suno suno Miss Chatterjee from the latter? Madhavi plays Miss Chatterjee.

    pacifist: You’re welcome! After all, my blog would hardly survive without the constant encouragement I get from readers. :-)
    I managed to get rid of that reddish-brown tint by changing the mode of each screen cap to Grayscale. Photoshop zindabad!
    Thank you for telling me about why Puran Chand and his father didn’t get along – I missed that somewhere. Will make a correction in the review.

    bollywoodeewana: Yes, I hope this gets a DVD release! It’s a sweet film, very watchable, and certainly far better than a lot of rather horrid films that are currently available on DVD.


  8. Lovely review! I have often heard the songs on the radio and the title of film spoken by the RJ (or announcers as they were called then) always intrigued me. I thought it was a ‘1001 Nights’ kind of a fantasy film.

    Yes, this sounds like a sweet enough film. Not too good or serious, but ok.


  9. It does sound a bit like some sort of fantasy film, now that I come to think of it. The first time I heard the title, I was reminded of a Hollywood film starring Dean Martin, called Ten Thousand Bedrooms… which is about a man who owns a vast number of hotels. At first glance, that title sounds a little risqué. ;-)


  10. thnaks for dedicating this to the readers….even those who go off cyberspace for a couple of months!

    Nice to come back and have all these reviews to catch up on. INteresting story, and now I am dying to know about the murder plot, although I guess it probably does not live up to expectations…


  11. bawa: Welcome back! And just in time too – I have a post coming up in a couple of days that might interest you. :-)
    The murder angle isn’t that difficult to guess after you’ve been watching the film for a while… I guessed what was going to happen before it did.

    pacifist: No, that’s Madhavi; I’m pretty sure of it. According to imdb, Daisy Irani was born in 1952, which seems correct to me, since she is about 6-7 years old in Bhai-Bahen (1959). And by that calculation, she would have been 10 when Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan was made – too young. And 14 when Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi was made: also a little on the young side. imdb also identifies Miss Chatterjee as Madhavi (so does Tom Daniel!) ;-)


  12. Well I don’t think I am mistaken going by the screen caps I don’t think Moolchand is D K Sapru ,I think it is Murad. The two of them looked very similar therefore most people made a mistake. But then I have not seen the credit titles so I could be wrong but I don’t think I am.


  13. Shilpi,

    The titles show Murad Bhai but yu know I cud have bet my last dallar and said the SS is our buddy DK.

    Yu are abso right these guys were so alike, it is the eyes of DK, like our other buddy KK which cud give away their id… but this one here, is so close that I am baffled..

    Cheers .)


  14. Great review, DO. I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed GHL. The music was lovely, there were two Helen dances and the Mala-Bharat Bhushan romance was wonderfully understated. I liked how playfull yet adult and egalitarian their relationship was. A nice antidote to movies like “Dulhan”, no?:-)


  15. So, the 11,000 girls witnesses at Mala’s trial, not applicants for a job with Bharat Bhushan! :D Thanks to Shalini, I’ve got this too, but haven’t got round to watching it yet. It seems interesting enough for one watch, and it will be nice to see Bharat Bhushan not weep, for a change!


  16. Shilpi: *blush* Yes, I do think you’re right. As ash confirms, it is Murad and not D K Sapru. Goodness, where would I be without my readers? ;-)

    ash: True! I find it very hard to distinguish between the two of them. But, who is KK?

    Shalini: Dulhan sounds ghastly! Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan was a nice, enjoyable film, and as you say, the romance was understated – I liked the fact that they didn’t fall madly in love at first sight, and neither did they have huge fights and quarrels that then suddenly changed into love. More real, less filmi, I thought. Sweet!

    bollyyviewer: Yes, seeing Bharat Bhushan in a non-weepy, modern role was half the joy of the film! (By the way, a Bharat Bhushan comedy I can recommend is Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh, with Anita Guha.)


  17. Oops sarry, we had KK Post on Memsaab Blog, it is Kamal Kapoor !

    And yeah Mud Mud is a g8 entertainer, super songs, MD Hansraj Bahl, all on YT I think, check ’em out, yu wil love ’em-

    auroton ke dibbe mein marad aa gaya – Mohammed Rafi, Suman Hemadi Kalyanpur

    baaghon mein kabutar kaale- MohammedRafi,Shamshad

    dulha bikta beech baazaar- Asha Bhonsle, Geeta Dutt

    haseen ho khuda to nahin ho- Mukesh

    jahaan tu vahaan vahaan jahaan main vahaan tu- Mukesh

    mar gayi garmi se- Asha Bhonsle

    raat kaali jugnu chamke- Mohammed Rafi, Shamshad Begum

    tere peechhe firte firte ho gaya poora saal -Mohammed Rafi, Suman Hemadi Kalyanpur



  18. ash: Oh, okay – I should have remembered. Greta did do an interesting post on Kamal Kapoor. Come to think of it, when it comes to fascinating eyes, Chandramohan was quite a winner too, right?

    kenjn60: High time for it! Ever since I’ve been blogging, I’ve had readers give me suggestions, make requests, even – as in the case of Shalini or ash or bawa – give me films. I am truly and deeply grateful to each one of you.


  19. Yer spot on DO,
    some where on KK Blog at Memsaab I was mentioning that Chandramohan and KK had similar eyes, and just recently we added our other buddy D K Sapru in the list, they really stand out for sure. Hv a nice w/end.

    Ta Ta


  20. Ooooops, and I thought both of them (in gyarah hazaar ladkiyan and suno suno miss..) were Daisy Irani.
    Don’t they have an uncanny resemblance to each other, or is it just me who sees this similarity?


  21. ash: And you have a nice weekend, too! :-)

    pacifist: Yes, they do look a lot alike – I had to do a fair bit of research to confirm that Madhavi was in fact the actress in both films, not Daisy Irani! If you see Daisy in a film like Waaris, she looks very much like Madhavi.

    Quite a coincidence, considering that Shilpi and Ash just recently corrected me about who played Puran’s father in Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan. I’d thought DK Sapru, but no, it’s Murad. Two more actors who looked very similar!


  22. Wow!!! You got to see this film!!! I have been on a lookout ever since I heard Dil ki tamanna thi but unfortunately haven’t been able to lay my hands on its vcd/dvd yet. For a movie with such lovely songs, I could just forgive any plot holes.
    This sounds entertaining and pretty different. Would love to see it.
    It’s very sweet and thoughtful of you to dedicate this blog to your readers!
    I have been very busy of late and don’t think I will be able to post anything before next weekend. I keep raving so much about Sadhana and look at the irony I couldn’t even do a post on her Birthday (2nd Sep) :-(


  23. Oh, I’d completely forgotten it was Sadhana’s birthday on the 2nd! :-( I adore her too – I’d almost certainly have posted something in connection to her birthday, if I hadn’t already decided what the theme for the month would be. Never mind; next year!

    Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan is an enjoyable film – and of course, the songs are fabulous. Shalini’s links to the copy she’s uploaded are in the comments for my Bhai Bahen post: if you like, you can download the film and watch. As far as I know, it hasn’t been released on a VCD or DVD yet.


  24. So this is not out on DVD yet? That’s a bummer, for sure. This sounds interesting enough to warrant a watch though I really cannot imagine Bharat Bhushan, except when he is crying!

    Where on earth do you get your hands on these movies, Madhu? (This, Aab-e-Hayaat…) You did mention being able to download it – is it still available?


  25. Actually, if you want some really obscure old Hindi films – the type not available – the best bet is They have a vast catalogue, they’re efficient, and they deliver outside India. (And I do know they have the Abe-Hayat VCD, though the one I saw was rented – I subscribe to a rental service here in Delhi, and they too stock some fairly little-known titles).

    Shalini had uploaded Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan for me to download, on a filesharing site. Sorry, I’ve deleted her e-mail long back, so don’t have the URL. I don’t even know if she retained it online or has since deleted it.


  26. Sounds very interesting! I was thinking of its title from the first time I heard about it.
    Such an interesting title.
    I love its music and Dil Ki Tamanna Thi is my favourite.(both versions)
    I am not particularly a Mala Sinha fan or Bharat bhushan fan
    but this film itself looks worth watching!


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